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Prime minister Pierre Trudeau drops the puck for Canada's Phil Esposito, right, and Soviet winger Vladimir Vikulov to open the 1972 hockey series. (Peter Bregg)
Prime minister Pierre Trudeau drops the puck for Canada's Phil Esposito, right, and Soviet winger Vladimir Vikulov to open the 1972 hockey series. (Peter Bregg)

'72 SUMMIT SERIES

The story of the Summit Series, as it's never been told before Add to ...

Reid: It was only when I persuaded the militia commander that we’d pay for the damage to the bar that we managed to quiet things down.

Plouffe: I had to pay $72 for some broken glasses owned by the government. When I was released, I’ll always remember this, Pete Mahovlich was outside waiting for me. Little did I know the worst was still coming.

Smith: The question was what would we do with all these fans on the off days. So we planned to have them see the theatre and the ballet and opera and so on. But most Canadian hockey fans don’t have much time for that.

Plouffe: When I got to my room, there were two police waiting. They told me I had to come back to the police station because I’d forgotten to sign something. When we get to the station, they tell me I’d hit a policeman. They then put me in a cell. Now I’m really scared. The next morning, my mother realized that I was gone. Now my parents are phoning the embassy, police.

Smith: When we found out he was incarcerated, his situation was quickly on the diplomatic agenda.

Plouffe: The next day they blindfolded me and took me to a court. After court, I meet a woman with the Canadian embassy. She was sitting with my mother. I asked what was wrong and she said, “You have been condemned to five years in Siberia.” My mother can’t talk, she’s crying so much. I admit then I’m scared. But then something strange happened. Game 7 was on that night. They asked if I wanted to watch. They were good guys in that jail, most of them.

The final games: victory at all costs

Esposito: I got our first two goals in Game 7. I’d figured out Tretiak. The secret: just a quick shot. I never looked at him.

Shatalov: Phil Esposito seemed huge and so strong. You couldn’t get to him. He was immovable.

Cole: It was another beautiful goal for Henderson that won the game. He split their defenceman and put one by Tretiak. He was on a roll.

Park: We brought the series to even. We were ecstatic. A few guys have called home by this time and we realize what’s going on. The entire nation is shutting down to watch the series.

Plouffe: After the game, I asked for two pieces of paper. On one, I made a deck of cards to play solitaire. On the other, I wrote out the alphabet and asked them to write the Russian equivalent. I figured, if I was going to be there five years, I better learn Russian.

Eagleson: We had an agreement that the two West German referees would not ref another game. They were so bad even the Russians didn’t want them. We agreed that the Czech, Bata, and the Swede, [Uwe] Dahlberg, would work the last two games.

Sinden: The day before, they tell us the two Germans will be refereeing the last game after all.

Eagleson: I explained that we refused to take the ice if [the Germans] were refereeing.

Smith: At a meeting with the Russians on game day, I proposed that we should each pick a referee. We picked Uwe Dahlberg from Sweden – and they told us he was sick.

Eagleson: I had breakfast with Dahlberg that morning. He was fine.

Smith: Dahlberg made his money refereeing. The Soviets had a big say over refereeing in Europe, so he developed a political illness. Finally we went with a second choice, Bata.

Bata: Just before midday, I got the information that I would be officiating with [Joseph] Kompalla. Very honestly, I wasn’t happy with this arrangement because Dahlberg and I worked well together. We were really a team.

Plouffe: A bit before the game, they came in my cell and said, “Hockey?” I thought they would show me the game on TV, like before. They told me to bring clothes. I get in a car and can see we are heading to the arena. There I sit down between two cops at the red line. I couldn’t believe it. I was sitting behind the Russian bench. The police said not to wave or applaud or jump, just watch hockey.

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